Moon Dance 1

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Fall 2009 - Day 5
Sun-Earth-Moon Activities

The instructor handed out a small styrofoam ball on a stick to each student. Turning on a light bulb in the middle of the room to represent the sun, she asked the students to pretend that their styrofoam balls were the moon. She had the students move to a spot near the sun (light bulb) that would demonstrate a full moon on their styrofoam balls. She had them show a full moon first because this is what they have recorded on their moon observation chart first. “Figure out how, using this ball and the lamp as the sun, how you could move it so it mimics the pictures we have on here.”

To show a full moon on their styrofoam balls, the students had to turn away from the light bulb and hold their “moons” in the air above their heads. This way, the light from the light bulb (sun) fully illuminated the side of the ball at which the students were looking. moon_dance_1.jpg

Next, the instructor asked the students to demonstrate what they had recorded on their moon observation chart after the full moon. “How do you have to change to show what you see on our moon observation chart? (the moon shape getting smaller). Our calendar even shows what side we have lit, that might have something to do with it.”

The students' observations showed that the moon shape was getting smaller, with the left side of the moon illuminated. To demonstrate a less lit portion of the moon using their styrofoam balls, they pivoted their bodies to the left.moon_dance_1-pt_2.jpg

The instructor wanted to move the students' thinking from observations to predictions. She did this by getting the students to think about what they already knew to make hypotheses. She asked the students, “How long did it take to get from full to what we see now (about half lit on the left side)?” The students looked at the class moon observation chart. They noticed that it had taken about one week for the moon to go from full to about half lit. The instructor scaffolded their thinking by asking, “So, what do you think it might look like in another week?”

The students noted that they had just rotated their bodies about 90 degrees to the left to get the “moon” to appear less lit. Using this information, they predicted that in another week, they would have to rotate their bodies about 90 degrees to demonstrate what the moon would look like. When they did this, the students noticed that the portion of the “moon” they were looking at while facing the light bulb was dark, and the portion of the “moon” that they could not see from where they were standing was lit. Discussions arose regarding what to call the moon when you could not see any lit portion. The students made a prediction that in another week, they would not be able to see the lit portion of the moon. moon_dance_1-pt_3.jpg

The conversations that occur as the students engage in the moon dance center around the idea that the phases of the moon are caused by the moon revolving around the earth. This video demonstrates one student doing the moon dance. Her movement of the “moon” revolves above and around her head. This student's head represents the earth in the moon dance activity. Moon Dance 1 Video

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